While many people lament the last few days or weeks of summer break, others have been anxiously counting down to the beginning of football season.
On the high school front there is plenty to be excited and optimistic about. Three of the four Bulloch County football teams have changed classifications, and all four are playing in new regions.
The Statesboro Blue Devils are finally moving down into the classification they belong. After playing the past few years in 6-A the Blue Devil drop into 5-A in a region that includes Bradwell as well as a few former region foes in Ware County and Greenbrier. Jenkins and Coffee round out the region and will be relatively new opponents for Statesboro.
Ware County and Coffee County are traditionally a couple of the better teams in the region and will probably be the two teams along with Statesboro battling for the top spot. Statesboro junior Kam Mikell has received a lot of attention in the off season after getting a scholarship offer from the Georgia Bulldogs. Mikell started every game last season at quarterback, but with the emergence of sophomore quarterback Bruce Yawn, Mikell may become an even bigger weapon for the Blue Devils at a number of positions.
Mikell is just one of many Blue Devils getting collegiate attention as this could be one of the more athletic Statesboro teams to take the field in some time. Running back Jordan Lovett has already received offers from Georgia Southern and Coastal Carolina. Defensive end Amontra’e Bradford recently went on an official visit to UGA and at least three other Blue Devils have also garnered Division-1 attention. Statesboro will scrimmage Metter August 12 on the road and then open the season August 19 at home against Glynn Academy.
The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets will get a chance to see how they stack up to a tougher classification early on as they play Statesboro and Effingham County back-to-back. The Yellow Jackets are making the jump from 3-A to 4-A and will be playing in a much tougher region this year which includes the defending state champion Benedictine Cadets. Rounding out the region is Burke County, Wayne County, New Hampstead and Islands. In the past you could just pencil the Jackets into the state playoffs, but this year it will be a true battle to get one of the top four seeds.
The good news for the Jackets is they are coming off an impressive season which saw them win their first state playoff games since 1973. Southeast Bulloch lost a few key players off last year’s team but the cupboard is far from bare in Brooklet. Quarterback Gage DiGiovanni has done a great job backing up Khristian Clark the past two seasons and will finally get a chance to see what he can do with a full season under center. The Jackets also return speed at skill positions as well as size on the offensive and defensive lines led by seniors Collin Jackson and Terry Mikell.
Southeast Bulloch will scrimmage South Effingham Aug. 12 at home and will open the season against Liberty County at home Aug. 19.
Anyone who is upset that the option attack is leaving Georgia Southern can just head over to Gator Alley to reminisce as the Gators are not only going to be running the option, they will be doing it under center the way God, Erk Russell and Paul Johnson intended it to be.
The Gators are moving into the new GIAA Class 4-A division which will be quite a test come the state playoffs as Mount de Sales, Tattnall Square, Brookstone, First Presbyterian Day and Stratford are among the power houses in the new division.
The good news for the Gators is they will still play a number of their old rivals, they just won’t be in the same classification with them come the post season. Bulloch Academy returns quite a few starters from a year ago and will be leaning a lot on fullback Bryson Scott as well as the quarterback tandem of Ben Aaron and Brennan Perossa. The Gators possess size up front and some pretty athletic linebackers including Malone Cason that should help them as they grind out the clock and try and shorten games with their option attack.
Bulloch Academy scrimmages Portal August 4 at Portal and will open the season at home against Tiftarea August 19.
Rounding things out, after a couple of tough seasons the Portal Panthers should be excited about their newly formed division of Class 1-A. Portal will be in the lower division of Class 1-A along with Montgomery County, ECI, Jenkins County, McIntosh County Academy.
The Panthers may not be huge in numbers, but they have plenty of quality athletes including quarterback Elijah Coleman who was banged up most of last year. Coleman will be able to hook up with his basketball teammate Amir Jackson who has already received an offer from Georgia Southern. Ivan Washington also gives the Panthers some punch at running back. Coach Jason McEachin will once again be counting on a lot of players to go both ways, but look for improvement from the Panthers this season.
Portal will scrimmage BA at home on Aug. 4 and then scrimmage at Claxton Aug. 12. The Panthers open the 2022 season at Hawkinsville Aug. 19.